Not all of our elderly residents that are placed in Massachusetts nursing homes suffer from nursing home abuse. But, unfortunately, there still remains a high number of instances of abuse in the Commonwealth. When visiting your loved one at a nursing home, if you suspect that he or she may be a victim of nursing home abuse, you should look for signs of unusual bruising or bleeding; open wounds, sores or burns that appear to be untreated; unexplained weight gain or weight loss; and poor hygiene.
Additionally, nursing home abuse can manifest itself in many other forms. It can be emotional, mental and physical. A typical definition of abuse is: the willful infliction of injury on another person. In nursing homes, instances of physical abuse have sometimes presented themselves in the form of battery or rape. This kind of abuse can also take place when an elderly person is restrained, either physically or through the use of chemicals. Abuse does not necessarily require the act of touching. It can also be evident in verbal threats used to intimidate another person or by humiliation and verbal insults.
In Massachusetts, neglect also constitutes abuse in a nursing home. According to Massachusetts law, neglect can be described as the failure of the nursing home or other facility to provide the goods and services necessary to avoid physical injury, mental harm or emotional distress. Under this definition, examples of neglect can include lack of hygienic care as well as under or over-medicating a resident. Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) in 1987 for the purpose of protecting our elderly in nursing homes from physical, mental or sexual abuse, as well as from neglect or financial exploitation.
If you witness some or all of these signs of nursing home abuse, you need to take action as soon as possible. First, you should increase the number of visits you make to the nursing home. It is recommended that once you increase your visits, you should also change the times during the day that you visit, as well as the days of the week. This is important because it will allow you to form a better assessment of the quality of care that your loved one is receiving from both daytime and evening nurses, as well as from weekday and weekend staff. Next, have a conversation with your loved one where you express your concerns regarding their quality of life at the nursing home. Sometimes, victims do not want to come forward to talk about their abuse out of shame or embarrassment, so it is important to express your support and concern for their best interests. Then, have a discussion with the doctors and nurses at the nursing home facility who are in charge of the care of your loved one. These people have more information about the daily activities happening at the nursing home. So the more people you get in touch with, the more information you will be able to gather. In addition, schedule a meeting with the directors and administrators of the nursing home. This is key because these individuals are responsible for the adherence by the facility to the applicable rules.
If you observe that your loved one requires immediate medical care, please do not hesitate to take them to a hospital emergency room, or bring in a private physician to examine them. In the event that you suspect that there may be criminal abuse, this can be reported to the Ombudsman at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs as well as the Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hotline.
Finally, seek expert legal advice from a Massachusetts personal injury attorney. Contacting an attorney specializing in nursing home abuse can be done at any point of your investigation, but if you contact them during the early stages, this can save you a lot of trouble because an expert attorney will know who to contact to acquire the necessary information to file a claim.
Nursing home abuse claims in Massachusetts can be extraordinarily confusing. Thus, the services of a nursing home abuse lawyer can help you in navigating through the necessary steps in order to have a successful claim. An attorney will make a determination as to what legal remedies are available, in addition to any damages you and your loved one would qualify for in order to be fairly compensated.
In the event that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, it is important that you seek legal help as soon as possible because you do not want the statute of limitations to run out in your case. This is a time limit that prevents you from filing a claim, once the established time period has elapsed, and you will forever lose the right to seek legal remedies and damages in court if you have not timely acted.
When selecting an attorney from the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates to represent you in your nursing home abuse case, you are selecting a highly skilled and knowledgeable attorney to assist you in your unique situation. Your needs are our top priority!